Two kings of the indie dancefloor unite for a warm, timeless take on 20th century pop and rock
Billy Bragg And The Blokes : London Barbican Centre
Inevitably, it seems a bit like a Socialist Worker's conference...
Bragg's still got axes to grind, though, lashing out at Euro-sceptics, as he wonders why the British fought in World War Two if they didn't want to be a part of Europe. Inevitably, it seems a bit like a Socialist Worker's conference - but no one's complaining, the audience are just as interested in Billy's views as they are his songs, and are behind him all the way, 'All You Fascists' providing a particularly potent coda to one of Bragg's rants.
It's easy to see why he's gained so much respect: his triumphs are many, and failures, few and far between. Although the new samba direction he takes on 'Sexuality' almost scuppers a clean sheet. There's a fine line between being brave and being foolish - but when you've got an original guitar riff by Johnny Marr, it's pretty safe to say which you are being when you change it. The heart is completely ripped from the song, and although the audience clearly want to 'get down', no one can quite get their heads round it.
Just as a great gig seems ruined by a fudged finale, the rotund frame of comedian Phil Jupitus bounds on. The song starts again, this time with Phil's lyrics, the chorus now changed to "Bestiality". Although we seem to be moving further and further from the heart of the song, at least now we're smiling - and Bragg just about gets away with his faux pas, by Jupitus!
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